New Air Pollutant Listings Bring ‘Domino Effect’ to Industry

2022-02-14

Federal focus on a chemical in degreasing and dry-cleaning products has attorneys keeping a close eye out for more air toxics scrutiny from the EPA—and wondering when it will ever come.

The Environmental Protection Agency added 1-bromopropane to its list of Hazardous Air Pollutants, or HAPs, last month, the first chemical the agency has added since the list was created in 1990.

The add has a “domino effect” of regulatory implications for industry already operating under HAP standards, according to Holland & Hart LLP partner Emily Schilling.

“You may be subject to specific standards for 1-BP in the future, but the fact that you emit right now could have substantial regulatory impacts for you starting immediately,” she said.

The move is also the start of other chemical standards to come—a “grand trend” in environmental law along with climate change and environmental justice, King & Spalding LLP partner Doug Henderson told Bloomberg Law.

“It’s really a signal for the next 20 years, there will be intense focus on all chemicals and substances, where there has not been either any analysis or the analysis may be 30 or 40 years old to see how toxic a substance may be,” he said.

Interim Preparation

The EPA lists new HAPs after years-long risk evaluations that determine certain concentrations “are known to cause or may reasonably be anticipated to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment.”

Now that 1-BP is on the roster of more than 180 chemicals, the EPA still needs to propose and finalize regulations—another lengthy process. EPA plans to issue a “regulatory infrastructure” on what compliance will look like for new chemical additions, which will likely be finalized in 2023.

Adding to the toxics list dredges up multiple considerations for industry, despite the long slog and regulatory uncertainty that comes with it.

Federal scrutiny can spur focus on how to implement new replacement chemicals to offset risk, or how to better incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance concerns, according to Henderson.

To prepare in the meantime, companies emitting 1-BP should assess their emissions potentials and get a handle on how they could affect their compliance, according to Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP partner Matt Leopold, who served as EPA general counsel during the Trump administration.

“You should consider, if you’re not already a major source, whether or not those 1-BP emissions would put you over the threshold into becoming a major source,” he said.

 

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Bloomberg Law, 14 February 2022
; https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/new-air-pollutant-listings-bringing-domino-effect-to-industry